Did you know that children make up 39% of the homeless population and 42% of these children are under 5 years of age? (Note the baby activity center in the homeless camp picture ). Children under about 12-14 are most often part of a homeless family, usually with only one parent present. There have been instances of children as young as 9 living on the streets without any relative present, but thankfully, below about 13, it is rare.
According to state departments of education across the country, 35% of homeless children lived in shelters, 34% were in group situations with family or friends, and 23% were in motels or other places in 2000.
Homeless children and youth face a number of problems. These include developmental problems, abuse and neglect, lack of effective education, among others. The National Law Center created a report in June 2006 summarizing basic facts about our homeless youngsters.
The data mentioned here can be found in its entirity here (5 pages plus 4 pages of citations):
Lack of a stable living situation can be mentally and physically harmful to children and youth.
Homeless infants are four times more likely to require special care at birth than other infants. Toddlers who are homeless usually develop at a slower pace than those who have stable homes. Homeless children are twice as likely to have a learning disability and are three times more likely than other children to have emotional or behavioral problems
33% of runaway youth state it was because of sexual abuse, while 50% report it was due to physical abuse. Sheltered homeless children have twice as many ear infections, five times more gastrointestinal problems, six times as many speech problems, and four times as many have asthma.
Abuse and Neglect
25% of the adult homeless population report having experienced physical and/or sexual abuse as a child by someone with whom they lived. Homeless children are physically abused at twice the rate of other children.
33% of the adult homeless population report running away from home as children and 27% report living in foster care or in a group home. 22% of the homeless population report being forced to leave home.
21% of the adult homeless population experience homelessness during childhood. Homeless children are three times as likely to have been sexually abused as other children.
Lack of Education Perpetuates Homelessness
- 38% of adult homeless individuals do not have a high school degree by age 18 and 53% report having dropped out of either elementary, middle, or high school for an indefinite period of time. 18% of the homeless population say they were expelled from school and only 62% of the homeless population have a high school diploma.